11.1 The Experience of Emotions – Introduction to Psychology – 1st Canadian Edition (2023)

Chapter 11. Emotions and motivations

learning goals

  1. Explain the biological experience of emotions.
  2. Summarizing the psychological theories of emotion.
  3. Give examples of how emotions are communicated.

The most basic emotions, known as base emotions, are those ofAnger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise🇧🇷 Basic emotions have a long history in human evolution and evolved in large part to help us make quick judgments about stimuli and quickly direct appropriate behavior (LeDoux, 2000). Basic emotions are largely determined by one of the oldest parts of our brain, the limbic system, which includes the amygdala, hypothalamus, and thalamus. Because they are primarily evolutionary, basic emotions are experienced and displayed in the same way in all cultures (Ekman, 1992; Ivory & Ambady, 2002; Fridland, Ekman, & Oster, 1987), and people are evolving in evaluating of emotions quite expressions of people from different cultures. See "Video Clip: Basic Emotions" for a demonstration of basic emotions.

See: "Recognize basic emotions" [YouTube]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haW6E7qsW2c

Not all of our emotions come from the old parts of our brain; We also interpret our experiences to create a more complex set of emotional experiences. For example, the amygdala can feel fear when it feels the body fall, but that fear can be interpreted very differently (perhaps even as emotion) when we are falling down a roller coaster than when we are falling out of the sky on an airplane. that has lost strength. EITHERCognitive interpretations that accompany emotions- known ascognitive assessment– allow us to experience a much larger and more complex set ofsecondary emotions, as shown in Figure 11.2, “Secondary emotions”. Although largely cognitive, our experiences with secondary emotions are determined in part by arousal (on the vertical axis of Figure 11.2, “Secondary Emotions”) and in part by your arousal.valor– that is, if the feelings are pleasant or unpleasant (on the horizontal axis of Figure 11.2, “Secondary emotions”),

If you manage to achieve an important goal, you can spend some time enjoying your secondary emotions, perhaps the experience of joy, contentment, and contentment. But when your close friend wins an award that he thought was worthy, he too may experience a variety of secondary emotions (negative in this case), for example anger, sadness, resentment, and shame. You may think about the event for weeks or even months and experience these negative emotions every time you think about it (Martin & Tesser, 2006).

The distinction between primary and secondary emotions is accompanied by two signaling pathways in the brain: a fast pathway and a slow pathway (Damasio, 2000; LeDoux, 2000; Ochsner, Bunge, Gross, & Gabrieli, 2002). Guardians in this process (Figure 11.3, “Slow and fast emotional trajectories”). Our reaction to the basic emotion of fear, for example, is primarily determined by fast-tracking it through the limbic system. When a car stops in front of us on the highway, the thalamus is activated and immediately sends a message to the amygdala. We quickly move our foot to the brake pedal. Secondary emotions are more likely determined by a slow journey through the frontal lobes to the cortex. When we are jealous of losing a partner to a rival or remember our victory in a great tennis match, the process is more complex. Information passes from the thalamus to the frontal lobes and from there to the amygdala for analysis and cognitive integration. We experience emotional arousal, but this is accompanied by a more complex cognitive assessment that evokes more refined emotions and behavioral responses.

While emotions may seem more frivolous or less important compared to our more rational cognitive processes, both emotions and cognitions can help us make effective decisions. In some cases we act after rationally processing the costs and benefits of various decisions, but in other cases we trust our emotions. Emotions become particularly important in decision making when the alternatives among many complex and contradictory alternatives present us with a high level of uncertainty and ambiguity, making full cognitive analysis difficult. In these cases, we often rely on our emotions to make decisions, and these decisions can in many cases be more accurate than those generated by cognitive processing (Damasio, 1994; Dijksterhuis, Bos, Nordgren & van Baaren, 2006; Nordgren & Dijksterhuis , 2009; Wilson and Schooler, 1991).

Cannon-Bard and James-Lange theories of emotion

Recall for a moment a situation in which you experienced an intense emotional reaction. Maybe you woke up in the middle of the night in a panic because you heard a noise that made you think someone broke into your house or apartment. Or maybe you were walking leisurely down a neighborhood street when suddenly another car stopped in front of you, forcing you to brake hard to avoid an accident. I'm sure you remember that your emotional response was primarily physical. You may remember feeling hot, fast, nauseated, or short of breath. You have experienced the physiological part of emotions, arousal, and I am sure you have had similar feelings in other situations, perhaps when you were in love, angry, ashamed, frustrated, or very sad.

When you think of a strong emotional experience, you may wonder about the order of events. You certainly experienced arousal, but did the arousal occur before, after, or along with experiencing the excitement? Psychologists have proposed three different theories of emotion, differing with respect to the hypothesized role of arousal in emotion (Figure 11.4, “Three Theories of Emotion”).

If your experiences are anything like mine, when you reflect on the emotion you experienced in strong emotional situations, you probably have something like, "I was scared and my heart started pounding." At least some psychologists agree with this interpretation. According to Walter Cannon and Philip Bard's theory of emotion, experiencing emotion (in this case, "I'm afraid") runs parallel to experiencing emotion ("my heart is beating fast"). CorrespondentCannon-Bard-Emotionstheorie,experiencing an emotion is accompanied by physiological arousal🇧🇷 According to this model of emotion, our heart rate also increases when we become aware of danger.

Although the idea that experiencing an emotion occurs along with the arousal that accompanies it seems intuitive to our everyday experiences, psychologists William James and Carl Lange had a different idea of ​​the role of arousal. CorrespondentJames-Lange theory of emotions,our experience of an emotion is the result of the arousal we experience🇧🇷 This approach proposes that arousal and emotion are not independent of each other, but that emotion depends on arousal. Fear doesn't come with a racing heart, but it doesthroughThe racing heart. As William James said: "We feel pity because we cry, anger because we shake, fear because we tremble" (James, 1884, p. 190). A key aspect of the James-Lange theory is that different arousal patterns can produce different emotional experiences.

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There is research evidence to support each of these theories. The operation of the fast emotional pathway (Figure 11.4, “Fast and Slow Emotional Pathways”) supports the idea that arousal and emotions occur together. The emotional circuits of the limbic system are activated when an emotional stimulus is perceived, and these circuits quickly generate the corresponding physical responses (LeDoux, 2000). The process happens so fast that we feel like the emotion is happening at the same time as our physical arousal.

On the other hand, and as predicted by the James-Lange theory, without arousal, our emotional experiences are weaker. Patients with spinal injuries that reduce their arousal experience also report reduced emotional responses (Hohmann, 1966). There is also at least some support for the idea that different arousal patterns produce different emotions. People who see faces of fear show more amygdala activation than those who see faces of anger or joy (Whalen et al., 2001; Witvliet & Vrana, 1995), we experience blushing and blushing when we feel embarrassed, but not when we experience embarrassment. different emotions (Leary, Britt, Cutlip, & Templeton, 1992), and different hormones are released when we experience compassion than when we experience different emotions (Oatley, Keltner, & Jenkins, 2006).

The two factor theory of emotion

Since the James-Lange theory proposes that each emotion has a different pattern of arousal, thetwo factor theoryof Emotion takes the opposite approach, arguing that the arousal we experience is fundamentally the same across all emotions, and that all emotions (including basic emotions) are distinguished only by our cognitive assessment of the source of the arousal. EITHERTwo-factor theory of emotionclaims thatThe experience of the emotion is determined by the intensity of the arousal we experience, but the cognitive appraisal of the situation determines what the emotion will be like.🇧🇷 Since both arousal and evaluation are necessary, we can say that emotions have two factors: an arousal factor and a cognitive factor (Schachter & Singer, 1962):

Emotion = arousal + cognition

In some cases, it can be difficult for a person experiencing high levels of arousal to identify exactly what emotion they are experiencing. That is, the person may be sure that they are experiencing arousal, but the meaning of the arousal (the cognitive factor) may be less clear. For example, some romantic relationships have very high levels of arousal and partners take turns experiencing extreme ups and downs in the relationship. One day they are madly in love and the next they have a violent argument. In situations accompanied by great excitement, people may not be sure of the emotion they are experiencing. For example, in the highly aroused relationship, the partners are not sure if the emotion they are feeling is love, hate, or both.The tendency for people to mislabel the source of the arousal they experience.is known as themisattribution of emotion.

In an interesting field study by Dutton and Aron (1974), young men were approached by an attractive young woman as they crossed a long, unstable suspension bridge that hung more than 200 feet above a river in British Columbia (Figure 11.5). , “Capilano Suspension Bridge”). The woman asked each man to help her fill out a class questionnaire. When she finished, she wrote her name and phone number on a piece of paper and invited him to call if she wanted to know more about the project. More than half of the men interviewed on the bridge called the woman. Men who were approached by the same woman on a low fixed bridge or by men on the suspension bridge, on the other hand, called significantly less often. the arousal could be this Explain the result: The men felt arousal from the top of the bridge, but mistakenly attributed it to the woman as romantic or sexual The attraction that made them more likely to call her.

Research focus: arousal misattribution

If you reflect a little on your own experiences with different emotions and consider the equation that suggests that emotions are represented by both arousal and cognition, you might wonder how much of each was determined. That is, do we know what emotion we are experiencing by monitoring our feelings (arousal) or our thoughts (cognition)? The Bridge study he just read about might provide an answer: Men seemed more influenced by their perception of how they should feel (their cognition) than by how they actually felt (their arousal).

Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer (1962) directly tested this prediction of the two-factor theory of emotion in a well-known experiment. Schachter and Singer believed that the cognitive part of emotions was crucial; in fact, they believed that the arousal we experience could be interpreted as any emotion, as long as we gave it the proper label. Therefore, they hypothesized that when a person experiences arousal for which there is no immediate explanation, that person will "label" that state in terms of the cognitions generated in their environment. On the other hand, they argued that people who already have a clear label for their arousal need not search for a relevant label and therefore should not experience an emotion.

In the survey, male participants were told they would be taking part in a study on the effects of a new drug called Suproxin on vision. Based on this cover story, the men were given an injection of the neurotransmitter epinephrine, a drug that normally makes people feel shaky, flushed and have fast breathing. The idea was to offer all participants the experience of emotion.

Then, according to the random assignment of states, the men were told that the drug would evoke certain feelings in them. men inreported adrenalineillness, they were told the truth about the drug's effects: that they would likely suffer from tremors, their hands would begin to shake, their hearts would begin to pound, and their faces might feel hot and flushed. the participants ofuninformed adrenalineHowever, on the condition that they were told something false: that their feet would go numb, parts of their body would itch, and they might have a slight headache. The idea was to make some of the men think that the arousal they felt was caused by the drug (thebeen informed), while others were not sure where the emotion was coming from (theuninformed state).

The men were then left alone with an accomplice who they believed had received the same injection. While they waited for the experiment (which was said to involve sight) to begin, the Confederate acted wild and crazy (Schachter and Singer called it a "euphoric" manner). He squished spit balls, blew up paper airplanes and played with a hula hoop. He kept trying to get the contestant to join his games. Then, just before the start of the visualization experiment, the participants were asked to indicate their current emotional states on different scales. One of the emotions they were asked about was euphoria.

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If you've followed the story, you'll see what you'd expect: the men who had a label for their arousal (theinformedgroup) would not experience many emotions because they would already have a label for their arousal. men inuninformedThe group, on the other hand, was expected to be unsure of the source of the excitement. They had to find an explanation for their excitement, and the accomplice provided it. As you can see in Figure 11.6, “Results from Schachter and Singer, 1962” (left hand side), they found just that. Participants in the uninformed state were more likely to experience euphoria (as measured by their behavioral responses to the confederate) than participants in the informed state.

Schachter and Singer then conducted another part of the study with new participants. Everything was exactly the same, except for the behavior of the accomplice. Instead of being elated, he acted angry. He complained about having to fill out the questionnaire he was asked to fill out, stating that the questions were silly and too personal. In the end, he tore up the questionnaire he was working on and yelled, "I don't have to tell you this!" He then he picked up the books from him and left the room.

What do you think happened in this state? The answer is the same: uninformed participants experienced more discomfort (again, as measured by participants' behavior during the wait) than informed participants. (Figure 11.6, “Results from Schachter and Singer, 1962”, right side). The idea is that because cognitions are such powerful determinants of emotional states, the same physiological arousal state can be labeled in many different ways, depending entirely on the labeling provided by the social situation. As Schachter and Singer put it, "Given a state of physiological arousal for which an individual has no immediate explanation, he will 'label' that state and describe his feelings in terms of the cognitions available to him" (Schachter & Singer, 1962). . p. 381).

Assuming that arousal in emotions is constant, the two-factor theory also predicts that emotions can transfer or spill over from one highly arousing event to another. My university's basketball team recently won a basketball championship, but after the final victory, some students rampaged through the streets near campus, lighting bonfires and burning cars. This seems like a very strange reaction to such a positive outcome for the university and students, but it can be explained by happiness-induced emotion spilling over into destructive behaviors. The principle ofexcitation transmissionrefers tothe phenomenon that occurs when people who are already experiencing the emotion of an event tend to feel unrelated emotions more strongly as well.

In short, each of the three emotion theories has something to back it up. In Cannon-Bard terms, excitement and arousal are often subjectively experienced together, and the propagation is very rapid. In support of the James-Lange theory, there is at least some evidence that arousal is necessary to experience emotions, and that arousal patterns are different for different emotions. And according to the two-factor model, there is also evidence that we can interpret the same arousal patterns differently in different situations.

communicate emotions

In addition to experiencing emotions internally, we also express our emotions to others and learn about the emotions of others by observing them. This communication process has evolved over time and is highly adaptable. One way we perceive the emotions of others is through theirs.non-verbal communication, That's it,Communication, especially likes and dislikes, that does not involve words.(Ambady & Weisbuch, 2010; Andersen, 2007). Nonverbal communication includes our tone of voice, gait, posture, touch, and facial expressions, and we can often identify the emotions that other people are experiencing through these channels. Table 11.1, “Some Common Nonverbal Communicators,” shows some of the important nonverbal behaviors we use to express emotions and some other information (especially liking or disliking and dominance or submission).

Table 11.1 Some common nonverbal communicators.
[skip table]
nonverbal cuedescriptionexamples
proxemicsRules for the proper use of personal spaceApproaching someone can express sympathy or dominance.
body appearanceExpressions based on changes in our bodyBodybuilding, breast augmentation, weight loss, piercings, and tattoos are often used to appear more attractive to others.
posture and movementExpressions based on how our body looksA more "open" posture may indicate taste; A faster walking speed can convey mastery.
gesturesBehaviors and signals made with our hands or facesThe sign of peace communicates affection; The “finger” communicates disrespect.
facial expressionsThe variety of emotions that we express or try to hide through our facesSmiling or frowning and staring or avoiding looking at each other can express liking or disliking as well as dominance or submission.
paraspeechKeys of identity or emotions contained in our voicesPronunciation, accents, and dialect can all be used to communicate identity and taste.

Just as there is no universal spoken language, there is also no universal non-verbal language. For example, in Canada, we show disrespect by showing the middle finger (either the finger or the bird). But in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, the V sign (with the back of the hand facing the recipient) serves a similar purpose. In countries where Spanish, Portuguese or French are spoken, a gesture of raising the fist and touching the biceps with the arm is equivalent to the finger, and in Russia, Indonesia, Turkey and China, a gesture where the hand and fingers are curved and the thumb slides between the middle and index fingers and serves the same purpose.

The most important communicator of emotions is the face. The face contains 43 different muscles that allow it to perform more than 10,000 unique configurations and express a wide variety of emotions. For example, happiness is expressed by smiles produced by two of the major muscles surrounding the mouth and eyes, and anger is produced by lowered eyebrows and pursed lips.

The face not only helps us express our emotions but also helps us feel emotions. EITHERFace-Feedback-Hypothesissuggests thatthe movement of our facial muscles can trigger corresponding emotions🇧🇷 Fritz Strack and colleagues (1988) asked their research participants to hold a pencil between their teeth (to mimic the facial movement of a smile) or between their lips (similar to a frown) and then rate the grace of a smile. They found that the cartoons were funnier when the pen was held in a smiling position: the subjective emotional experience was enhanced by facial muscle action.

These and similar findings show that our behavior, including our facial expressions, influences and is influenced by our affect. We can smile because we are happy, but we are also happy because we smile. And we may stand tall because we're proud, but we're proud because we're on top (Stepper & Strack, 1993).

Main Conclusions

  • Emotions are the normally adaptive emotional, physiological, and mental states that direct our attention and guide our behavior.
  • Emotional states are accompanied by arousal, our experiences of bodily responses produced by the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system.
  • Motivations are forces that guide behavior. They can be biological, such as hunger and thirst; personal, such as achievement motivation; or social, such as the motivation of acceptance and belonging.
  • The most basic emotions, known as core emotions, are anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise.
  • Cognitive assessment also allows us to experience a variety of secondary emotions.
  • According to the Cannon-Bard theory of emotions, experiencing an emotion is associated with physiological arousal.
  • According to James Lange's theory of emotions, our experience of an emotion is the result of the arousal we experience.
  • According to the two-factor theory of emotion, experiencing the emotion is determined by the intensity of the arousal we experience, and the cognitive appraisal of the situation determines what the emotion will be.
  • When people mislabel the source of the arousal they experience, we say that they misattributed their arousal.
  • We express our emotions to others through non-verbal behaviors and we learn about the emotions of others by observing them.

exercises and critical thinking

  1. Consider the three theories of emotion we discussed, and give an example of a situation in which a person might experience each of the three proposed patterns of arousal and emotion.
  2. Describe a time when you used nonverbal behaviors to express your emotions or to acknowledge the emotions of others. What specific non-verbal techniques did you use to communicate?
(Video) Psychology 101 Chapter 1 (Introduction) Lecture


Ambady , N. and Weisbuch , M. (2010). Nonverbal behavior. In ST Fiske, DT Gilbert and G Lindzey (Eds.),social psychology textbook(5th ed., vol. 1, pp. 464–497). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Anderson, P. (2007).Nonverbal communication: forms and functions(2ª ed.). Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press.

Damasio, A. (2000).The feeling of what is happening: body and emotion in the construction of consciousness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New York, NY: Mariner Books.

Damasio, AR (1994).Descartes' mistake: emotion, reason and the human brain. . . . New York, NY: Grosset/Putnam.

Dijksterhuis, A., Bos, MW, Nordgren, LF, and van Baaren, RB. (2006). On the right choice: the effect of meaningless deliberation.science, 311(5763), 1005–1007.

Dutton, D and Aron, A (1974). Some evidence of increased sexual attraction in severe anxiety.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 510–517.

Ekman, P. (1992). Are there basic emotions?Psychological review, 99(3), 550-553.

Ivory, H.A. & Ambady, N. (2002). On the universality and cultural specificity of emotion recognition: a meta-analysis.Psychological Bulletin, 128, 203–23.

Fridlund, AJ, Ekman, P. & Oster, H. (1987). Emotional facial expressions. In A. Siegman and S. Feldstein (Eds.),Behavior and non-verbal communication(2nd Aufl., pp. 143-223). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hohmann, GW (1966). Some effects of spinal cord injury on the emotional feelings experienced.Psychophysiology, 3(2), 143–156.

James, W. (1884). What is an emotion?mind, 9(34), 188–205.

Leary, M. R., Britt, T. W., Cutlip, W. D. y Templeton, J. L. (1992). Rubor social.Psychological Bulletin, 112(3), 446–460.

(Video) A Brief History of Psychology: From Plato to Pavlov

LeDoux, J.E. (2000). Emotional circuits in the brain.Annual Journal of Neuroscience, 23, 155–184.

Martin, LL and Tesser, A (2006). Extending the rumination theory of goal progression: goal reappraisal and growth. In L. J. Sanna and E. C. Chang (eds.),Judgments over time: the interplay of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors(S. 145-162). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Nordgren, LF and Dijksterhuis, AP (2009). The devil is in the reasoning: overthinking reduces the consistency of preferences.Consumer Research Magazine, 36(1), 39–46.

Oatley, K., Keltner, D. y Jenkins, J. M. (2006).understand emotions(2nd edition). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Ochsner, KN, Bunge, S.A., Gross, J.J. and Gabrieli, J.D.E. (2002). Rethinking feelings: an fMRI study on the cognitive regulation of emotions.Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 14(8), 1215-1229.

Russell, J.A. (1980). A circumflex model of affect.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 1161–1178.

Schachter, S and Singer, J (1962). Cognitive, social and physiological determinants of emotional state.Psychological review, 69., 379–399.

Stepper, S. & Strack, F. (1993). Proprioceptive determinants of emotional and non-emotional feelings.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(2), 211–220.

Strack, F., Martin, L. & Stepper, S. (1988). Inhibition and facilitation of human smiling conditions: a non-intrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(5), 768-777. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.54.5.768

Whalen, P.J., Shin, LM., McInerney, SC., Fischer, H., Wright, CI. and Rauch, S.L. (2001). A functional magnetic resonance imaging study of human amygdala responses to facial expressions of fear versus anger.emotions 1(1), 70–83;

Wilson, TD and Schooler, J.W. (1991). Overthinking: Introspection can reduce the quality of preferences and decisions.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(2), 181–192.

Witvliet, C.V. & Vrana, S.R. (1995). Psychophysiological responses as indices of affective dimensions.Psychophysiology, 32(5), 436–443.

(Video) Introduction to Psychology: 2.1 - The Brain and Behavior - Nervous System and Neurons

image attributions

Figure 11.2:Adapted from Russell, 1980.
Figure 11.5:Goobiebilly Capilano Suspension Bridge (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Capilano_suspension_bridge_-g.jpg) used under CC-BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en) .

Figure 11.6:Adapted from Schachter & Singer, 1962.

long descriptions

Figure 11.2 long description: secondary emotions
emotion levelUnpleasantNice
  • Miserable
  • sad
  • depressant
  • Schmuddelig
  • bored
  • favor
  • Satisfied
  • satisfied
  • Get comfortable
  • sereno
  • Calm
  • rested
  • Sleepy
  • Tired out
  • alarmed
  • worried
  • Bravo
  • Violent
  • worried
  • Frustrated
  • saddened
  • amazed
  • Cheered up
  • Weird
  • Feliz
  • Fascinated
  • happy satisfied

[Back to Figure 11.2]


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